Please note that some of the links in this news archive will no longer be active
The December Science Update has the latest information on the previously mooted possibility of New Zealand involvement in a marine science cruise using the Oden in 2010, and there are also reminders for various forthcoming events. It comes with best wishes for the Festive season and 2009 from all at Antarctica New Zealand. Download updates here.
The latest Science Update has information on the Science strategy consultation and science performance review, along with potential opportunities for marine research and IPY outreach information. Download tupdates here.
The score for Heat, opening at Bats Theatre in Wellington on Friday (7 November) and running until 22 November was composed by Gareth Farr. Aiming to simulate some of the restrictions of life in the Antarctic, Heat will be totally self-sustainable, with lights, sound and electronics all powered as far as possible from low drain and/or renewable energy.
Libby Liggins of Auckland has been selected as this year's Antarctic Youth Ambassador. The award, developed by Antarctica New Zealand in partnership with the Sir Peter Blake Trust, aims to provide an opportunity for a young New Zealander to contribute to environmental work in Antarctica. Libby Liggins is the second recipient of this award which attracted a large number of high quality applicants. For more information go to the Press Releases.
The annual report for 2007-2008 has now been published. A low resolution copy can be downloaded here.
The latest Science Update has information on the Science strategy, several links to SCAR news and also notes the recent successes of several Antarctic scientists. Download updates here.
University of Canterbury journalism student, Naomi Arnold, has been selected as Antarctica New Zealand's inaugural International Polar Year Media Scholar. Naomi will spend six weeks over the coming Antarctic summer season at Scott Base covering a range of stories from the Ice, including the science events of the last season of the International Polar Year. For more information go to the Press releases.
Alex Pyne of the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington has been awarded a New Zealand Science and Technology medal by the Royal Society's New Zealand Science & Technology Medals committee. The medal recognises his leadership in the field of polar drilling technology which has enabled the recovery of continuous records of past environments in the most challenging of places - Antarctica. Most recently Alex was Drilling / Science Manager on the ANDRILL project which drilled to a record depth of 1285 metres. More information on the ANDRILL project can be found here.
Professor Craig Cary of the University of Waikato has received a Marsden Fund grant of $798 000 over 3 years. His research project is called: Life at the extreme: resolving the genetic basis of microbial endemism in the super-heated soils of Mt Erebus, Antarctica.
The study of high temperature extreme environments continues to challenge our understanding of the upper tolerances of microbial life and how life may have originated on earth and possibly other planets. The Tramway Ridge geothermal site on Mt Erebus, an active volcano in Antarctica, is the most geographically isolated geothermal site on earth providing an excellent system for studies of microbial speciation, biogeography, and evolution of thermal adaptation.
A preliminary genetic survey of the Tramway Ridge microflora revealed an unprecedented diversity of extremely novel microbes only distantly related to any known bacteria. Most of these loose affiliations are with organisms identified from deep-subsurface systems suggesting the Tramway Ridge community may be archaic and of sub-surface origin. A group dominates the community that to date has no known cultured or environmental representative. Recent advances in high throughput DNA sequencing and bioinformatics allow the acquisition and deciphering of the genetic capabilities and structure of entire microbial communities without the necessity of cultivation. Employing a combination of these advanced genetic methods, coupled with culture-dependant approaches, a genecentric analysis of the Tramway Ridge microflora and other Antarctic geothermal sites will be undertaken to address questions of endemism, biogeography, evolution, and adaptation.
Rob Fenwick has been appointed Chairman of Antarctica New Zealand replacing retiring Chairman, Paul Hargreaves. Rob is an experienced businessman and company director with interests closely aligned to promoting sustainable development. He has had a long association with Antarctica, which includes nine years as director and later chairman of Landcare Research, as well as being a former Chairman of the Antarctic Heritage Trust. The Board and Staff of Antarctica New Zealand look forward to working with Rob and the extensive experience he brings to the position.
John Walsh, who travelled to Antarctica as an invited artist last season, is currently exhibiting at the Janne Land Gallery in Wellington. This exhibtion of his Antarctic-inspired art can be viewed online here. The exhibition closes on 11 October.
The latest Update announces the appointment of the new Manager Science and Information. Dr Ed Butler is currently Senior Strategy Advisor at Crop and Food Research and was one of the first Antarctica NZ science scholars, receiving the NZ Post Antarctic Scholarship in 1997. It also contains information about the importance of creating an IPY legacy through an improved NZ focus on science, education and outreach. Download updates here.
The first flight of this year's annual programme departs from Christchurch tomorrow. This flight and several others will supply both New Zealand and US Antarctic stations with scientific equipment, general supplies, fresh fruit and vegetables, and mail. Key personnel will also be deployed early for the upcoming summer research season, which begins in October. To read press releases go here.
Please note that some of the links in this news archive will no longer be active.
The Antarctic bibliography database has recently been updated. The bibliography contains citations for all research supported logistically by Antarctica New Zealand. The latest update includes 80 papers published in 2007 and 37 for the current year and has nearly 4000 records in total.
This month's Science update contains information on the NZ Antarctic science strategy, an NSF proposal for Ross Sea marine research collaboration and the usual updates and dates for forthcoming conferences, scholarship and award applications. It also invites comment and feedback on a draft SCAR report on Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment. Download Updates here.
Today the whole of the sun will be visible for the first time in more than 4 months at the Arrival Heights Research Laboratory, near Scott Base. To celebrate its return the Arrival Heights webcam has been re-activated. The light has gradually increased over the past 2 weeks and the 16 winter staff are looking forward to its complete return.
Two new place names have been designated to honour the exceptional leadership and work of Paul Hargreaves, retiring Board Chair, and Dr Dean Peterson who has been Manager, Science and Information for the past 10 years. The highest peak on Adare Peninsula, Hargreaves Peak rises to approximately 2083m. The feature stands sharply above the Downshire Cliffs to the east, and its western slopes gently descend toward Nameless Glacier, which flows into Protection Cove. Mount Peterson rises to approximately 1910m on the northern summit of Daniell Peninsula. The feature is flanked by Whitehall Glacier to the west, Tucker Inlet and Tucker Glacier to the north, and the Ross Sea at the east. For more information read the Press release.
This month's Science update is a bumper edition, containing updates on recent conferences attended, travel grants available, and information on the financial constraints faced by the US National Science Foundation amongst other news items. It also includes more than 30 new research papers added to the Antarctic Bibliography. Download updates here.
The 2008 Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programmes (COMNAP) meeting was held in St Petersburg, Russia from 29 June-4 July and was attended by CEO, Lou Sanson, Managers Antarctic Programme, and Support, Erik Barnes and Iain Miller. During the meeting a presentation on the new Search and Rescue (SAR) Training Manual and Modular Training Package was given by Erik Barnes. The Manual and Training Package was developed jointly by Antarctica NZ, the Australian Antarctic Division and the US Antarctic Program. It has increased the three Programmes' capability to respond safely to both search, and rescue incidents in Antarctica. The use of the Manual and future development by other national Antarctic Programmes, provides the opportunity to further increase capability, knowledge sharing, and ultimately will help save lives.
The Modular Training Package increases the operational readiness of search and rescue teams, and helps manage the seasonal turnover of staff, retention of institutional knowledge, promotion of international 'best practice' in search and rescue techniques, and develops the ability to easily integrate techniques with other national Programmes. This project has proved a valuable asset to national Antarctic Programme managers to meet these wide-ranging issues, while providing a volume of information that can be further developed, refined for specific use, and adapted to various environments. Ultimately, any programme will be able to initiate an incident management response, confident in the knowledge that personnel are fully capable of responding in a safe and reliable fashion, in any Antarctic environment, with a common understanding of search and rescue principles among participating national Antarctic Programmes. For more information contact Antarctic Programme Manager, Erik Barnes.
Antarctica New Zealand has published its Statement of Intent 2008-2011, which sets out its activities over the next 3 years.
The latest issue of Icesheet has now been published. Along with other interesting information, it includes an update on the wind power project, this year's invited artists and introduces new staff at Antarctica New Zealand.
The latest science update carries a note from Lou Sanson, acknowledging the impact that Dean Peterson has had during his 10 years with Antarctica New Zealand. It also contains information on the Science Review and its link to the Statement of Intent, as well as a reminder about the forthcoming conference. Updates can be downloaded here.
Registration is still open for the 2008 Antarctica New Zealand Conference, but closes on 13 June. This conference hosted by the University of Otago's Polar Environments Research Theme will run from 30 June to 2 July 2008 and will include talks and posters from groups supported by Antarctica New Zealand or others who have undertaken Antarctic-related work. More information on the conference can be found here.
The 31st Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) and the 11th Meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP) to the Antarctic Treaty begin in Kiev, Ukraine, on 2 June and run until 13 June 2008. For the second year, Dr Neil Gilbert, Manager Environment at Antarctica New Zealand will be chairing the CEP. New Zealand has submitted 15 papers to the ATCM on subjects ranging from environmental monitoring and protected areas to non-native species and environmental domains. Lou Sanson, CEO and Miranda Huston, Environmental Advisor are delegates to the ATCM and CEP respectively, along with representation from the Department of Conservation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Gateway Antarctica.
The latest science update notes that Dean is moving to take up a new position, and also has a reminder about the forthcoming conference. Download updates here.
New Zealand artists, author Lloyd Jones and photographer Boyd Webb, are the two recipients of the 2008/09 Antarctica New Zealand Invited Artists residency programme. Wellington-based Jones and London-based Boyd Webb will travel to Scott Base, Antarctica in December of this year to take part in the programme, which targets prominent New Zealand artists. For more information read the press release.
Early Bird registration for the 2008 Antarctica New Zealand Conference is now open. This conference hosted by the University of Otago's Polar Environments Research Theme will run from 30 June to 2 July 2008 and will include talks and posters from groups supported by Antarctica New Zealand or others who have undertaken Antarctic-related work. More information on the conference can be found here.
Please note that some of the links in this news archive will no longer be active.
Two New Zealand scientists have returned from a groundbreaking study of how Antarctic organisms cope with freezing. The research supported by Antarctica New Zealand, believed to be the first carried out so late in autumn, was part of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research's (Niwa's) Life in the Cold and Dark project. It was one of six projects to receive special government funding for the 2008 International Polar Year. The last flight from Antarctica usually leaves in late February.
Niwa scientists Ian Hawes and Karl Safi spent eight weeks camping near the McMurdo Ice Shelf in -40°C temperatures. Hawes said it was the first time in the modern era researchers had been able to stay so late in Antarctica and study organisms in the lead-up to winter. He was researching how oxygen-breathing organisms dealt with the period of "freezing-up", when the ponds they lived in became toxic with sulphide.
"One of the surprises was the speed with which ice forms. It forms faster and more consistently than we thought it would," he said. "Most organisms were well-frozen before the really difficult toxic conditions took hold". The organisms studied evolved three billion years ago. "They are pretty much indestructible, they can cope with almost anything the world can throw at them," Hawes said.
With only a few hours of light a day, conditions were rough. The team slept in tents in freezing temperatures and used portable huts as makeshift laboratories, and living and cooking quarters. Keeping samples and equipment from freezing was challenging and often involved carrying hot water bottles around or keeping things tucked inside clothes, said Hawes. "It was a great time and real adventure, but it's great to be back," he said.
The latest science update contains information on the draft science strategy document, end-of-season review meeting, late season IPY research work, and links to various other items of interest. Download updates here.
Antarctica New Zealand and Meridian Energy are about to embark on a project to build the southernmost wind farm in the world. The project will be part of Antarctica New Zealand's contribution to the joint logisitics pool with the United States Antarctic Program on Ross Island, Antarctica. The scheme will reduce power generation fuel consumption and will involve the construction of three wind turbines on the Crater Hill site. For more information go to the press release.
On Friday 18 April the NZSO will give the world premiere of Gareth Farr's Terra Incognita, inspired by Gareth's trip as an Artist to Antarctica in the 2005/06 season. In conjunction with this event there is an NZSO Antarctic Festival running in Wellington throughout the week with seminars, an exhibition (at the NewDowse) and film evening. The various events include the participation of a number of other artists who have travelled through the Artists to Antarctica programme. More information can be found On Friday 18 April the NZSO will give the world premiere of Gareth Farr's Terra Incognita, inspired by Gareth's trip as an Artist to Antarctica in the 2005/06 season. In conjunction with this event there is an NZSO Antarctic Festival running in Wellington throughout the week with seminars, an exhibition (at the NewDowse) and film evening. The various events include participation of a number of other artists who have travelled through the Artists to Antarctica programme.
Antarctica New Zealand has been successfully re-accredited for the Gold Standard of Enviro-Mark NZ through an external audit. Both its Orchard Road operations and management of its Scott Base activities were considered for the audit.
Enviro-Mark NZ is an environmental management system marketed and supported throughout New Zealand by Landcare Research. It provides a step-by-step process to enhance business performance in a number of areas including: achieving health, safety, and environmental legal compliance, reducing environmental risk, increasing resource use efficiency (water, waste, energy, and raw materials) and improving status with stakeholders by demonstrating environmental commitment.
Enviro-Mark was developed in the United Kingdom to provide an Environmental Management System (EMS) accessible to all organisations. In 2001 Landcare Research, a Crown Research Institute, secured the New Zealand licence for Enviro-Mark and it has been adapted for use in this country and registered as Enviro-Mark NZ. Enviro-Mark NZ provides businesses with a framework to systematically assess their performance against agreed standards. Businesses using Enviro-Mark NZ are: Reducing energy consumption; reducing waste to landfill; reducing potential legal compliance risks and raising staff awareness.
In November 2007, at the invitation of Antarctica New Zealand, an independent environmental audit was conducted by the British Antarctic Survey and the Australian Antarctic Division of the ANDRILL McMurdo Sound Portfolio project. Overall the audit concluded that the ANDRILL Programme was undertaken in compliance with the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, and largely in accordance with the Final Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation (CEE). The auditors believed that the impacts of the activity were well within the environmental limits set by the Final CEE. The audit is to be presented as a joint Information Paper to the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP) XI meeting in 2008. The full document can be downloaded here.
On 29 March between 8 and 9pm Scott Base will shut down all non-essential energy sources in recognition of Earth Hour. Around the world Earth Hour is intended to encourage businesses, communities and individuals to take the simple steps needed to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. While plenty of New Zealand businesses and individuals are signing up to Earth Hour it will present unique challenges to the winter team at Scott Base.
With the Antarctic winter setting in and daylight hours diminishing by as much as 2 hours per week, a total shutdown of the Base could be life-threatening. Scott Base winter manager Grant Hill said "A significant effort already goes into minimising the Base footprint in Antarctica. Fuel for energy is expensive to get to Antarctica and for that reason we run fairly efficiently. That said, we are keen to do whatever we can to reduce our energy use even further.
As a mark of Earth Hour Scott Base will be shutting down to minimum safety lighting and switching off all unnecessary appliances and computers. "We will probably sit round in the dark for a while or go to bed early. Candles will not be an option due to the risk of fire" said Hill. Heating would still be essential, as temperatures at Scott Base were now falling close to -30 degrees C.
New Zealand scientists have taken a big step forward in the ongoing protection of Antarctica. They have completed a classification of the physical environment of the entire continent which is now considered the leading environmental information database for Antarctica. The classification, called Environmental Domains of Antarctica, highlights environmental variables that can be used for a range of management activities in Antarctica including prioritising sites for protection and ongoing environmental monitoring. Click here for more information and to download the entire report.
After a successful summer season of scientific work, Antarctica New Zealand, supported by the United States National Science Foundation, will extend its 2007/08 Antarctic summer season until mid-April. For more information read the press release.
The latest issue of Icesheet has now been published and can be downloaded here. Along with other interesting information, it includes an update on ANDRILL and other New Zealand International Polar Year projects, and the visit to Antarctica by Jay Piggott, the inaugural Antarctic Youth Ambassador.
The New Zealand Defence Force is playing a significant role in the current offload of cargo which supplies a vital lifeline to McMurdo Station and Scott Base in Antarctica. The New Zealand Defence Force have supplied a 47-strong team, which includes drivers and movement operators who are on the Ice as part of Antarctica New Zealand's contribution to the joint US/NZ logistics pool. For more information read the press release.
Foreign Minister Winston Peters flies to Antarctica today for a three-day visit to Scott Base. During his visit Mr Peters will unveil a plaque to commemorate the success of the ANDRILL drilling project. For more information read the press release.
Antarctica New Zealand was saddened by the passing of Sir Edmund Hillary today. Sir Ed, as he was affectionately known, holds a special place within the New Zealand Antarctic programme. He was largely responsible for the creation of Scott Base which has recently celebrated 50 years of continuous operation. For more information read the press release.
Former long-serving Director Bob Thomson died at his home in the United States on 3 January 2008. RBT (Bob) Thomson was the Director of the DSIR Antarctic Division from 1965 to 1988. In all he made 78 trips to Antarctica and received numerous NZ and international honours for his work including: The Antarctic Service Medal of the United States in recognition of valuable contributions to exploration and scientific achievement under the U.S. Antarctic Research Program; The Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays conferred by his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Japan; The Antarctic Service Medallion for service with the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions on behalf of the Government of Australia. Bob was also very influential in improving air safety in Antarctica after the Erebus Disaster in 1979. In 2005 one of the main blocks at Scott Base was named the Thomson Building, acknowledging his immense contribution to New Zealand's standing in Antarctica, and to the New Zealand base in particular. Two geographical features Thomson Peak and Thomson Massif are also named in his honour.